(NBC Sports)–UPDATE: So much for Zambrano staying in Chicago. Just hours after Epstein’s radio interview Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Marlins are close to acquiring Zambrano from the Cubs. He’d have to waive his no-trade clause first, but Rosenthal believes Zambrano would do so to pitch for manager Ozzie Guillen and it’s no secret that the Marlins have been shopping for another veteran starter. Carlos Zambrano‘s odds of remaining with the Cubs increased significantly when Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took over the front office from Jim Hendry, but he’s still far from a sure thing to be with Chicago on Opening Day.
During an interview with WGN radio today Epstein was asked about Zambrano’s status and gave a pretty interesting answer:
The Carlos Zambrano of 2011 and years previous can’t fit into the culture that we have here. Change needs to happen and change will happen. Either he’ll change and buy in and fit into this culture–and I understand there are a lot of skeptics around about that, and I understand that, and frankly, I’m skeptical as well.
He needs to prove to us that he can change and be part of this culture or we’ll change the personnel and move forward with people who are proud to be Cubs and treat their teammates with respect, treat the fans with respect and can be part of a winning culture in the Cubs’ clubhouse.
Epstein focusing on the clubhouse culture is … well, let’s say noteworthy considering how the Red Sox’s clubhouse culture fell apart in the month or two before he left Boston. Clearly if the Cubs can get any kind of decent prospect or meaningful payroll relief in exchange for Zambrano they’ll gladly trade him, but there isn’t a whole lot of benefit to eating his entire $18 million salary just to make him go away.
I know its only January 4th, but if Epstein can get a package of Big League Chew(not grape) in return for Carlos Zambrano in this rumored trade to the Miami Marlins then Theo should get executive of the year. Epstein can just do no wrong right now. When you’re hot you’re hot. The Cubs haven’t necessarily made any moves to date that make the on-field product better, but everything is breaking their way. Pujols…out of the division. Prince Fielder…on his way out of the division(or maybe on his way to Wrigley). Ryan Braun…suspended. Everyone in that division is worse. Remove club house cancer Carlos Zambrano and change up the culture and the NL Central championship is realistically in play for the Cubs. Epstein is gonna do big things in Chicago. BIG. Spring training is about 6 weeks away. Should be a fun summer on the Northside.
PS: The Miami Marlins are actually a perfect place for Carlos Zambrano. His mentor and close friend Ozzie Guillen is their manager and I am pretty sure their logo is made out of the same stuff as a mood ring, so that really takes the guess work out of dealing with Crazy Carlos.
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I think its pretty obvious that Epstein is reversing whatever curses exist here with the Cubs. He is basically Ghost Busting the shit out of Wrigley Field. Sign solid outfielder with super hot wife…check. League MVP and rival Ryan Braun suspended for 50 games…check. Albert Pujols out of Division and National League…double check. Epstein is on FIRE this winter. A couple more moves and a culture change…then get ready for a fun summer on the North Side.
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